A Prelude to My Live Lobster Kitchen Experiment

Before I get to the knitty gritty on this post, I want to start by talking a little about this process because I don’t want to seriously offend anyone. When I took my graduate class in Food History (American Cultural Foods and Foodways) we discussed how much time people used to spend preparing food. In the US in the 1700s about 70% of the day was spent on food production. Hunting or raising livestock for meat, which then needed to be processed and smoked/brined/salted/jerkied/preserved, farming to produce adequate fruits and vegetables, which then needed to be canned/preserved/fermented/cooked, cutting down trees and chopping up wood to be used to fuel the fire, all milk had to be Pasteurized through a complicated system that had to be boiled to sterilize it immediately before and after the process meaning that milk to hours to prepare and many homes had a milk maid, and don’t even get me started on butter or bread because this list could go on forever. In other countries, it still does-people in Africa have to wake up and make a journey to get water and fire wood so that they can begin their day.
As pointed out in Food Inc. many people do not think about all the effort that goes into the food they eat anymore. People who would decry cooking a live lobster have no problem eating all sorts of other things that they just don’t have to kill. It’s not even the least humane food product I can think of foie gras comes to mind, as does veal.
I was also interested when, a few years ago, Whole Foods stopped selling live lobster but had no problem continuing to sell already dead lobster. I’m not entirely sure how they kill the lobsters that you can buy frozen, but I know that boiling the lobster kills it quickly. I happened to be taking my Food History class when they made the decision and my professor read us an article that discussed the choice. The writer cautioned that having to kill a live lobster is the closest many of us come to processing our own food nowadays as we have turned away from small game culturally and many people do not hunt. It’s our last vestige of the reality that all the meat that we eat is killed by someone somewhere. Basically, I decided to honor this and cook a live lobster because I hadn’t before and I tried to make the experience as fun for the lobster and myself as possible, which is the best I could do really.

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